In my life, I’ve dated a pretty wide variety of girls, but none of them have been major outliers when it came to having decent ethics. I’ve never dated a racist, a bigot, an ageist, an anti-Semite, a beer snob, a xenophobe, an obnoxious atheist, or someone who thought Katie Perry was better than Joni Mitchell. It’s hard to recall any moments when a girl said something that brought the date to a screeching halt. To expand on that, where exactly is that line for me? What exactly would someone have to say to make me want to get up and end the relationship, right there, on the spot?
On moral grounds, I mean. As opposed to obvious deal-breakers like “I forgot to mention I have six kids,” or “Guess what! Turns out we’re cousins!”
These questions grew in importance recently after I had a rough Skype conversation with a young lady I met in Seoul. Her name was Sarah and she was originally from the Philippines. We’d met at a club and exchanged contact information and I was definitely interested in pursuing something. For weeks Sarah and I would have long Skype conversations every night. Then one evening, we got to talking about our childhoods. Sarah asked me to tell her a story about my childhood, and I told her an innocuous little anecdote about something silly that happened in the 2nd grade.
“Now you tell me a story,” I said. And with that, Sarah unleashed this show-stopper:
“This is really bad,” she said. “Frogs. I was in the 2nd grade then. It was lunch break and my sister and I went home. I smelled a foul smell down in our basement, so I went down and checked. To my surprise, I saw a dead bloated frog beside a water barrel. I did not know what got into my brain. I called my sister and ordered her to take a knife with her. Being an obedient sister, she stormed off and took a kitchen knife.
“So I was there, pretending I was a surgeon doing a sensitive surgery on a frog’s bloated belly. Could not slice it that much coz the skin was already dry – been dead for days maybe. And our nanny caught us and called dad immediately. He was too particular about cleanliness and all, so he could not take what he saw.”
Okay, so her story hit me a little off guard. But it’s not that bad – she was a young kid and she cut open a dead frog. A little strange? Yes. Worrying? Perhaps. A deal breaker? No – people have done worse things.
Take the rest of the conversation, for instance.
I responded to the frog story by saying, “I couldn’t do it. I’m a little afraid of dead animals.”
“I loved killing animals before,” she said. “Ssshhhh.”
How does one respond to that? I chose sarcasm, perhaps to mask the shock, and said, “Who doesn’t go through that phase?”
“Like there was a green lizard,” she continued. “They’re bigger and live in coconut trees. I caught it and I barbequed it!”
A frog and now a lizard…I was a bit weirded out, but I could deal. I hoped she was out of stories, though. Here was this sweet little Filipino girl, one who I wanted to take out pretty badly, and she was turning out to be a torturer of defenseless amphibians and reptiles. I tried to chalk it up as a cultural difference. Like how Koreans think it’s okay to eat dogs and Canadians enjoy clubbing seals.
“My sis thought I was disgusting,” she continued, “but we perfectly got along making kittens suffer!”
“Not kittens!” I typed quickly, shouting through the keyboard. A frog…a lizard…I could turn a blind eye to that. But I adore cats. I love petting them and tickling their bellies and keeping them away from crazy Filipino girls.
“My sis and I would grab them by their tails and slam them at the walls,” she typed. “Sometimes I put them in big cookie jars and watched them fight for their lives.”
It was a horrible image. A poor kitten stuck in a cookie jar, suffocating. How could I possibly take this girl out? What was her idea of a good first date?
“Hey, I was thinking we could get dinner and then shoot some bunnies afterwards.”
This was terrible. For days I felt deflated. I had apparently found the line, or at least approached it. Yeah, this all happened when she was little…but what if I went to her apartment and there was a big empty jar? How could I know for sure she intended to put cookies in it?
In conclusion, I ended up going out with Sarah once after the crazy animal killin’ conversation. Apart from that one conversation, she was an amazing person with a warm heart. In the end, it was distance that caused things to fade out. I don’t know if that’s a good thing – I feel I should have an ethical line drawn somewhere and I should stick to it.
When I was a little kid and my father told me the pet cat died, that was difficult to understand and accept. Imagine how I would’ve felt if he told me Mommy killed it.
(The Santa Cat photo was taken from the website Dan of the Day. It can be found here.)